Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Before and After Story

former  Excise Bonding Warehouse, Corby Distillery
One of the best Quinte region stories lately has been the transformation of the old Corby Distillery 'Canadian Government  Excise Bonding Warehouse' complex into Signal Brewing Company. Here's a link to their Facebook page, so you can (try to) keep up with the entertainment line-up.

So much to say. The repurposing of some beautiful historical brick and stone buildings is top of mind.

I spent a long time wandering the property on an only slightly promising mid-April day, preparing to write an article for County and Quinte Living about the Corby Distillery, way back in 2015.

I had already interviewed Helen, a mischievous woman who had worked at the once booming distillery back in the 1970s. So I shared her sadness at seeing this building (a holy of holies which she and her bottling line comrades were never to approach) with roof collapsed and vegetation taking over.

Along the river side of the building, a hazardous wooden bridge hinted at what must once have been a busy conduit between busy works-spaces.

Pallid post-winter nature did nothing to brighten the scene.

Fast forward to August 2017, when my guy and I finally visited Signal Brewery, after a delightful day at O'Hara Mill, and a photo trip around Hastings County's built heritage, for yet another story.

So much to delight. Our server explained the choice of name, Signal Brewing Company. Designer Carl Weins provides the fascinating back story to the logo and labels. The names: Signal, Radio Tube, Wave evoke nostalgic radio days, and embody the energy with which the place is crackling.

When you go, spend some time with the collection of Corby Distillery memorabilia in the foyer. Take time to fully appreciate the design decisions behind the creation of the interior event space which is already a legendary party and music venue (the bathrooms are gorgeous.) The staff are welcoming and attentive. There's also a terrific kitchen/menu, and a gorgeous multi-level deck overlooking the Moira River, and the beer. Ah yes, the beer. On our sunny Sunday afternoon D and I enjoyed flights of Signal's offerings, and watched the river run.

Naturally, it was the architecture I spent the most time with. The decor - post industrial funk, bare brick and stone walls, reclaimed barn siding and new sheet steel, smooth concrete floors. And the vision of the owner, Richard Courneyea, whom I interviewed for the article last year, when Signal was just an idea tickling his creative head.

This is a place to watch. Congratulations Richard  for your vision, your daring, your hard work. Signal Brewing Company is one of the area's best adaptive reuse project in years - and the most fun.

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